It’s neither a surprise nor a badge of honour, but we’re No. 1!

When the B.C. Wildfire Service gave its daily update on Wednesday at 1 p.m., chief information officer Kevin Skrepnek said that fires since April 1 have burned 894,491 hectares. That surpassed the 855,000ha that burned in 1958.

The number has taken a big jump this week, thanks to a lot of activity with the two biggest fires and a clearing of smoke that has allowed better mapping.

On Wednesday, there were 145 active fires, including nine new ones.

In Kamloops, we enjoyed sunshine and mostly clear skies on Wednesday, with just a bit of haze. We’re hoping for more of the same in the days to come.

But it’s still only mid-August and we’re nowhere near being out of the woods.

The really good news is that more and more evacuees, many of them from the Bonaparte Lake area, are being allowed to return home. However, there still are about 6,000 people out of their homes and in Kamloops many of them remain at the Sandman Centre.

On Wednesday, Debbie Sell, a spokesperson for the Thompson Nicola Regional District, said the arena will be used as the main reception centre for as long as this situation continues.

The Sandman Centre is home to the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, who already have moved their hockey school, training camp and two exhibition games to the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.

F Marcel Hossa (Portland, 1998-2001) has signed a one-year extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had 22 goals and 21 assists in 52 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was for the lead in assists. . . .

F Tomáš Voráček (Prince Albert, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 43 games with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga).

Danny Flynn, a veteran major junior coach who guided the Saint John Sea Dogs to a QMJHL championship last season, has joined the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach.

The Winterhawks also announced that former player Paul Gaustad has been named assistant coach/player development.

Danny Flynn (left) and Paul Gaustad have been added to the Winterhawks’ coaching staff. (Photos:

Flynn and Gaustad will work with Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, and associate coach Kyle Gustafson.

Johnston and Flynn share the same hometown — Dartmouth, N.S. — and have known each other for years. “I have known Danny since Dartmouth days,” Johnston told Taking Note, adding that he had “worked on the opportunity to get him out west in the past month.”

Johnston and Flynn were assistant coaches together with Team Canada as it won gold at the 1994 World Junior Championship.

Flynn left the Sea Dogs on July 28, saying that he wanted to pursue other opportunities. “I feel the time is right for me to move on,” said Flynn, 59, who had been with Saint John for two seasons.

Flynn, who has coached in the Memorial Cup on six occasions, coached in the OHL, as an assistant or head coach, for eight seasons (1987-95), then was the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats for seven seasons (2006-13). He also has worked in NHL for two seasons as an assistant with the New York Islanders (2006-07) and Buffalo Sabres (2004-15).

Gaustad, 35, is from Fargo, N.D., but was raised in Portland. He spent three seasons (1999-2002) with the Winterhawks before going on to an 11-season NHL career. As a player, he was known for his fitness level, his skill on faceoffs and for being a terrific penalty killer.

The Winterhawks had an opening on their staff after Oliver David took over as head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints on May 31. David spent one season in Portland.

The Seattle Thunderbirds have lost their scouting director with Dan McLean having been hired as an amateur scout by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. McLean will focus on the WHL. . . . McLean, who is from Sylvan Lake, Alta., had been with the Thunderbirds for 21 seasons. He was named Seattle’s director of scouting on Sept. 9, 2015. . . . Colin Alexander, Seattle’s former director of player personnel, left the Thunderbirds two years to join the Penguins as an amateur scout.

Ryan Huska, a former WHL player and coach, will be back for a fourth season in the Calgary Flames’ organization after the NHL team signed him to a new deal earlier this month. He is preparing for his third season as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat. . . . George Johnson, one of the many terrific writers dumped by Postmedia in recent times, has a piece on Huska right here. Johnson now writes for

Bob Beatty is the new head coach of the bantam prep team at Shawnigan Lake School in B.C. For the past four seasons, Beatty has been the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. Prior to that, he spent 17 seasons coach in the SJHL — nine seasons as GM and head coach of the La Ronge Ice Wolves and eight as the head coach of the Humboldt Broncos.

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Ken Wiebe is a sports writer with the Winnipeg Sun, who happens to spend a lot of his summer on various golf courses, most of them in Manitoba. On Wednesday, he posted these two tweets — about three hours apart.

Amazing development. Just delivered my first career hole-in-one. PW on 125-yard third hole @GlendaleGolf

— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) August 16, 2017

Unreal…I made another one on the 16th @GlendaleGolf in the same round #doubleaces #MBGolfTour

— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) August 16, 2017

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